Skip Navigation

Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, MSN, RN

Endowed Professor for Health Equity and Social Justice
Director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging
Sarah Szanton
View Full CV

Specialties and Expertise

  • Aging
  • Chronic Care
  • Community
  • Community / Public Health
  • Disparities
  • Family
  • Gerontological / Geriatric
  • Gerontology
  • Interprofessional
  • Loneliness
  • Pain/Symptom Management
  • Social Determinants of Health/Poverty


A number of years ago, while making house calls as a nurse practitioner to homebound, low-income elderly patients in West Baltimore, Sarah Szanton noticed that their environmental challenges were often as pressing as their health challenges. Since then she has developed a program of research at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing on the role of the environment and stressors in health disparities in older adults, particularly those trying to “age in place” or stay out of a nursing home. The result is a program called CAPABLE, which combines handyman services with nursing and occupational therapy to improve mobility, reduce disability, and decrease healthcare costs. She has tested the program's effectiveness through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Innovations Office at the Center on Medicaid and Medicare Services. She has major funding from the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation to build infrastructure for the CAPABLE program. She has also conducting a study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, of whether food and energy assistance improve health outcomes for low-income older adults. A former health policy advocate, Dr. Szanton aims her research and publications toward changing policy for older adults and their families.

Additional Resources

Below are selected resources. For more information, please see full CV.

  • Videos





  • Publications/Research

    Szanton, S.L., Leff, B.L., Wolff, J.L., Roberts, L. Gitlin, L.N. (2016). “Home-based care model reduces disability and promotes aging in place.” Health Affairs 35 (9) 1558-1563.

    Szanton, S.L., Roberts, L., Leff, B., Walker, J.L., Seplaki, C.L., Soones, T., Thorpe, R.J., Ornstein, K. (2016) “Home but Still Engaged: Participation in Social Activities Among the Homebound.” Quality of Life Research (online ahead of print).

    Gleason, K. Tanner, EK, Boyd, C.M., Saczynski, J.S., Szanton, S.L.  (2016). “Factors Associated with Patient Activation in an Older Adult Population with Functional Limitations.” Online ahead of print at Patient Education and Counseling (with PhD student).

    Szanton, S.L., Wolff, J.W., Roberts, L. Leff, B.L., Thorpe, R.J., Tanner, E.K., Boyd, C., Xue, Q., Guralnik, J. Bishai, D. Gitlin, L.N. (2015) “Preliminary data from CAPABLE, a patient directed, team-based intervention to improve physical function and decrease nursing home utilization: the first 100 completers of a CMS Innovations Project.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 63(2):371-374.

  • Awards/Honors

    2016 Senior Service America Senior Scholar Award for Research Related to Disadvantaged Older Adults—Gerontological Society of America and Senior Service America, Inc.

    Top 50 “2016 Influencers in Aging”—Next Avenue

    2015 Baltimore Business Journal Health Care Innovator award

    2015 Fellow, Gerontological Society of America

    2015 Visiting Fellow, University of Sydney, Australia, June 28-July 5, 2015

    2015 Emerging Edgerunner Award—American Academy of Nursing

    2014 Co-recipient of Protégé Award—Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research